Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when a dental issue is no big deal, or when it needs more serious medical attention. Maybe you were playing with your toddler and they jumped, causing your teeth to clatter together violently. Perhaps you forgot your mouthguard when you were playing a pick-up game with your friends, and took an elbow to the mouth, which knocked out a prominent tooth. Or maybe you were enjoying your dinner so much that you weren’t paying attention, and bit your tongue…really badly, and it won’t stop bleeding.
These are some problems that require a call to an emergency dentist.
- Knocked out tooth – If there is hope of preserving the tooth, you have a very small window—one hour to be precise. If you can be seen by your dentist within one hour of having the tooth knocked out, there is some hope. Never try to jam the tooth back in its socket. Instead, gently place it (facing the right direction, of course) back in the socket. However, if it’s not possible to place the tooth back in the socket, put it in a resealable plastic bag with some milk, or water with a pince of salt. Regardless of whether or not the tooth can be saved, a knocked-out tooth is definitely something to call your emergency dentist for.
- Cracked or broken teeth – If you have a broken or cracked tooth, the damage is probably not limited to the outside of the tooth. If the crack is severe enough, it will not be possible to save the tooth. Either way, see your dentist right away. While you wait to see your dentist, rinse with warm water, take some acetaminophen (do not take aspirin). If your trauma to your face is what has caused the cracking, apply a cold compress to the area. Your dentist will be able to assess the damage, once you are able to see them. You may need X-rays, and a crown. Dr. Gardner fabricates his own dental crowns in our office, and would usually be able to fit you with a repair crown on the same day.
- Severe bite or tear to tongue or lip – If you bite your tongue severely enough, or receive a severe laceration to the inside of your cheek or lip(s), you need to see an oral surgeon or go to the emergency room. Rinse with warm water, and if the bleeding does not stop or is severe, or have a lot of persistent pain, it’s definitely time for a visit to your emergency dentist. We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill I bit my tongue incident. Remember to only take acetaminophen for pain, since aspirin and ibuprofen are anti-coagulants and can cause excessive bleeding.
- Broken jaw – If you suspect that your jaw might be broken, there are a few symptoms you can look out for—bruising, swelling, pain when moving your jaw, jaw opening to one side, stiffness, and (not limited to) problems opening and/or closing your mouth. See your dentist right away if you suspect that your jaw might be broken.
- Objects stuck in the teeth or mouth – If you have something stuck in your teeth or mouth that you can’t remove with brushing or flossing, you should probably visit your dentist right away. Do not use any sharp objects to remove the object. Rather than try and deal with it yourself and potentially causing more damage, visit your dentist to resolve the issue.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, don’t ignore them. They are not going to go away on their own. You emergency dentist will be able to address these injuries and put you on the right path to healing. And if you need help, we also have some tips for finding a family dentist who can handle your emergencies.